Whether you are a marxist with camping skills or a Nazi looking for a fresh start, no place says "Hola!" like Latin America.
- Jon Stewart
Tomorrow I leave for two weeks in El Salvador and Guatemala. In the interests of safety, I spent $138 on chloroquine anti-malarial medication, also known as crazy pills, and promised my mother I would not befriend any gang members from the leading Los Angeles-based gang exports Mara 18 and Mara Salvatruchas (MS).
Notice I said nothing about EX-gang members. LOOPHOLE!
I almost didn't get malaria pills because one side effect - it's rare but it's there - is the psychotic break. I thought that maybe having a psychotic break would be more of a drag than having malaria. Until I talked to Sara who has actually had malaria. Sara told me that when she wasn't feeling extremely ambivalent about living or dying, her physical capabilities were this:
Hear a noise to the left and start to turn head in that direction. 45 minutes later head makes it all the way over. Have to use the toilet urgently, knowing you will soon shit yourself. Hour-and-a-half later make it to the bathroom, having shit yourself, but at least you're in the right place for round two which will start any minute.
That makes a psychotic break look pesky by comparison and far more interesting. So I took my first pill five hours and so far don't feel any more loopy than usual. The other best malarial travel advice I've gotten is to drink a lot like the British colonials in India who diluted the bitter anti-malarial quinine taste in tonic with gin.